Everson Griffen said he left the Vikings after the 2019 season because he thought the grass would be greener on the other side. After splitting last season between Dallas and Detroit, Griffen realized that wasn’t the case and the veteran defensive end returned to the Vikings on Monday after working out for the team last week.
Griffen, wearing an unfamiliar number (58), took part in individual drills and one-on-ones in his first practice back but there remains one bit of unfinished business. That would be patching things up with quarterback Kirk Cousins, who was the subject of a some uncomplimentary tweets from Griffen last winter. Griffen called Cousins “ass” in one tweet and also claimed that coach Mike Zimmer didn’t want to sign Cousins in 2018. Griffen deleted the thread of tweets and also later tweeted an apology.
“I haven’t really talked to him yet, but I’m going to get around to doing that,” Griffen said. “Apologize to him. I apologized to Coach Zim and Rick (Spielman, the Vikings general manager) about what I said. I take full ownership in that. But I’ve still got to talk to Kirk and apologize to him about that.”
Asked what precipitated Griffen’s tweets that day, he said: “I’m just going to talk to Kirk and apologize to him. We’ll have a man-to-man conversation and we’re going to leave it like that.”
Cousins isn’t scheduled to speak to the media until Wednesday, so it’s unclear how he feels about the decision to sign Griffen.
Griffen, 33, who was a fourth-round pick of the Vikings in 2010 and had three seasons under Zimmer in which he recorded double-digit sacks totals, will be used as a situational pass-rusher, according to Zimmer. Griffen’s 74.5 sacks as a Viking place him seventh in franchise history.
Evening Judd: Everson Griffen plans to apologize to Kirk Cousins.
— SKOR North (@SKORNorth) August 23, 2021
Stephen Weatherly and D.J. Wonnum have been battling for the starting job at right end, with Danielle Hunter set to return at left end after missing last season after he had surgery to fix a herniated disc in his neck. It’s possible that Weatherly or Wonnum could play on first and second down and Griffen would be a third-down specialist. “Whatever they have me do, I’m happy to do it,” he said. “I’m going to try to do it at the highest level and go out there and help this team win ballgames.”
The Vikings’ comfort in signing Griffen grew after he met with Spielman and Zimmer last week. Griffen said they wanted to know that “my head was in it,” and “that I’m in a good place.” The Vikings had Griffen undergo a mental health evaluation during the 2018 season and he ended up missing a month. Griffen opened up about his situation with NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero in 2020.
Early in Monday’s practice, Griffen was seen talking to nose tackle Michael Pierce, who wears No. 97. That’s the number Griffen had for years with the Vikings. Griffen said Pierce already has offered to give him back No. 97.
“We’re going to see,” said Griffen, who had six sacks and 14 quarterback hits in 14 games between the Cowboys and Lions last season. “It’s my first day back in pads, I’m tired, so I’m just trying to figure out everything.”
The nice thing for Griffen is that he, his wife and three children still live in the Twin Cities, so figuring things out with his old team shouldn’t take very long. Griffen now admits that opting out of his contract after recording eight sacks in 2019 wasn’t a good decision.
“I left because I thought the grass was greener on the other side, to be honest and it wasn’t,” he said. “Going to Dallas, going to Detroit, the grass wasn’t greener. I didn’t get the love that I got here with the fans, with the coaches, with the players. The grass wasn’t greener. I learned and I’m back home and I’m happy to be home. I should have stayed last year, to be honest. Where people love me, where the fans love me, where you guys love me, but I didn’t do that. I should have stayed, but I worked hard, I made sure that I was productive enough. I should have stayed and I’m happy to be back.”